Fairfield, CT – The Pioneer bats came alive in game two of a crucial Northeast Conference double header Friday afternoon as the SHU softball team earned a split with an 8-0 victory in five innings. Annie Dreher (Saugus, CA) went 2-for-2 with two doubles and two RBI in the second game of the afternoon. Jen Russell (Seymour, CT) tossed a combined 12 innings and allowed only one earned run all afternoon, pitching a one-hit shutout in the Sacred Heart win.
Quinnipiac (25-20, 9-5 NEC) relied on its pitching ace Heather Schwartzburg as both offenses struggled in the opening stages of game one. The Bobcats nearly put their first runner in scoring position as Lauren Salgado started the third with an infield single and would try to steal second. However, SHU catcher Shannon McCoy (Yorba Linda, CA) gunned down Salgado for the first out, marking just the second caught stealing against the Bobcat runner in 16 attempts.
Sacred Heart (23-19, 10-6 NEC) had its best scoring chance in game one in the bottom of the third. Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA) and Jade Bowins (Frederick, MD) kept the frame alive with back-to-back two-out singles. Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA) lined a ball sharply into left field that looked headed for extra bases but was grabbed by Salgado on the run just shy of the warning track.
The Bobcats took advantage of SHU fielding miscues in both the fifth and sixth innings to push across one run in each frame. Salgado's second infield hit in the fifth made it 1-0 while a Bridget Figmic single to center in the sixth moved the QU lead to 2-0. Schwartzburg maneuvered around a Bobcat error in the seventh to complete a three-hit shutout and give the visiting team the 2-0 opening game triumph.
The Pioneers top-ranked offense in the NEC responded to an off game with three runs in the first inning of game two. Lee notched a single to right field to plate Froelich and give SHU a 1-0 advantage. Two batters later Dreher ripped her first double just under the glove of the third baseman to score two Pioneers and pad the SHU cushion to 3-0. Russell mowed down the first 10 Bobcats she faced in game two before suffering her only blemish, a one-out single from Jacqueline Ristow.
Sacred Heart went up 4-0 in the fourth as the inning started on a laser from Dreher that did major damage. The lined shot went off of the bare hand of Figmic at third, forcing her to leave the game for medical attention, and resulted in a Dreher double. Erin McAndrews (Marblehead, MA) had a pinch hit fielder's choice RBI to put SHU on top, 4-0.
The Pioneers continued the assault on Bobcat starter Mina Duffy in the fifth inning as Froelich and Bowins both reached base and stole their way into scoring position. Lee posted her second RBI of the day on a ground out before Tsipouras and Dreher drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Carley Rudloff (Queen Creek, AZ) hammered a RBI single through the right side to welcome QU reliever Katie Alfiere to the ball game. McCoy and Melissa Tobin (Hudson, MA) added two straight RBI singles to increase the SHU lead to 8-0 and end the game via the run rule with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth.
Sacred Heart remains the only team in the Northeast Conference to not get swept in a league double header.
The SHU softball team is scheduled to take on South Dakota tomorrow at 11:00 am inside Pioneer Park.